A serial killer's creepy post-conviction message: There are more victims
With six words penned to his local newspaper, serial killer Todd Kohlhepp gave voice to the fears of investigators and anyone else worried that a missing loved one had become a victim of South Carolina's infamous murderer:
"Yes there is more than seven."
The sentence was a chilling part of a prison letter Kohlhepp sent to the Spartanburg Herald-Journal last week - more than a year after a woman who had been summoned to Kohlhepp's property to clean was found chained by the neck inside a large storage container.
The investigation led authorities to identify seven other victims. Three had also been lured to the property under cleaning gig pretenses. Their bodies were buried in shallow graves. Another four were victims of a quadruple murder that hadn't been solved for 13 years.
In May, Kohlhepp pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty and was sentenced to seven lifetimes in prison, plus 60 years.
But he apparently wants people to know - or at least wonder - about other possible victims.
"I tried to tell investigators and I did tell FBI, but it was blown off," he continued in his letter to the Herald-Journal. "It's not an addition problem, it's (a) multiplication problem. Leaves the state and leaves the country. Thank you private pilot's license."
It's plausible that there could be more murder victims. Some of Kohlhepp's previous murders had been unsolved for more than a decade. He was a gun enthusiast and, as he points out in his letter, an amateur pilot. Authorities told the media they confiscated an "arsenal" of weapons from the Woodruff property where the woman was found and Kohlhepp's home some 10 miles away.
Kohlhepp was a well-groomed and tech-savvy real estate agent who gave no outward signs of the murderous secrets he was keeping. But to those privy to his true self, he was rather chatty.
Kala Brown - the woman found in the storage container - told the "Dr. Phil" show that Kohlhepp would tell her he was "nearing the triple digits" in killings.
As The Washington Post's Amy B Wang reported, Kohlhepp recounted in detail - and even seemed to brag - about killing four people at a South Carolina motorcycle shop, which had come to be known as the "Superbike" murders.
"All of a sudden, I had three people in front of me. ... Mom was the closest. ... And I shot her two, three times in the chest. Not my best work. ... She fell. The son and the manager, he ... ran for the door, took off. ... At that range, they should have ran to me, not away.
" ... That was one big building. I cleared that building in under 30 seconds," Kohlhepp told investigators. "I'm sorry, but you guys would have been proud."
More than a decade later, Kohlhepp hired Brown and her boyfriend, Charles "David" Carver, to do some cleaning work at the property he owned in Woodruff. She told "Dr. Phil" that they had previously cleaned houses for Kohlhepp and never thought they were in danger as they drove to Woodruff.
But Kohlhepp killed Carver and kidnapped Brown. Investigators tracked them down by tracing their cellphones.
Dramatic video released by investigators showed them sawing through a lock on the shed where Brown was hidden. Suddenly free, she spewed out details about her captor and the other crimes he'd revealed to her.
Carver's body and two others were found on the property. Kohlhepp also confessed to the motorcycle shop murders in Chesnee.
As for the most recent claims, Anderson Police Department Capt. Mike Walters told the Herald-Journal he doesn't believe Kohlhepp is connected to any open local cases but that there could be more victims in other states where Kohlhepp has spent time.
The FBI told the newspaper the investigation remains open.
But the only person who knows for sure is being cryptic.
"At this point," Kohlhepp wrote in the letter, "I really don't see reason to give numbers or locations."